By Mohammed Zarour.
“Each one of us can do a good deed, everyday and everywhere. In hospitals in desperate need of volunteers, in homes for the elderly where our parents and grandparents are longing for a smile, a listening ear, in the streets, in our workplaces and at home”
Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it fully. In lieu of this, it becomes obligatory for us to show the utmost kindness, respect, and obedience to our parents. The position of parents, and the mutual obligations and responsibilities, have been addressed in Islam in great detail. The Qur'anic commandments, as well as the sayings of Prophet Muhammad guide us in this matter. The parent-child code of behavior in Islam is unique, since rules were laid down by divine command.
References to parents have been made at least 15 times in the Holy Qur'an. There are numerous traditions of the Prophet Muhammad on this subject. One of these Qur'anic verses is as follows:
"And we have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final goal." (Quran 31:14)
According to the above verse, gratitude to God and to parents go hand in hand. Gratitude to God is incomplete without showing gratitude to one's parents. Since being grateful to God is a form of ibadah (worship), which earns heavenly rewards, it can therefore be said that being grateful to one's parents also earns heavenly rewards.
My father died when I was 18. It still feels very strange to write that, much less say it out loud. One evening, during my first week at university, he had a heart attack and died almost instantly. Since that day my life, thoughts and responsibilities have been changed for the better. I have learnt to be responsible for the needs of society, and even as a volunteer, it’s something that makes me feel proud of myself and the family and village to which I belong.
Since I lost my father I’ve tried to volunteer in as many organizations as possible. After three years, I had established a group of volunteers in my own village, to work with people in the community who needed our help and support.
I am very glad that I found out about the Deer AL-Ghoson Elderly home. It was quite exciting initially, and I quickly became much much more sensitive to the feelings of the elderly. In retrospect, I would like to correct my above phrasing of ‘people who need help’. The elderly people I met do not actually need as much help as we might think. They are independent and strong-willed, and eager to support themselves. Below are some stories from individuals I met who really touched me.
Dr. Mohammed is 65 years old, with a PHD philosophy, and can speak more than ten languages. He told us many enchanting stories of his past, and though he has visual impairment and weak ligaments, he is quite optimistic towards life, and strong enough to wheel himself up and down steep slopes.
Yusra is nearly 80 years old and loves having her picture taken. She has an awesome smile, but when she shared with us what had happened to her, we were brought to tears. Yusra was thrown out by her own brother with no warning or reason.
Maher and Saleh both have Down syndrome but may be more powerful than us. They seem to have a feeling or sense of how they make you smile, and are so happy that they made me more optimistic than before.
So, there are many elderly in our society who are actually quite approachable, but you may not see it! There will be more in the future as our society is aging. So if we want to bridge the generation between elderly and youth, we have to take the first step to clearing any misconceptions we have towards them. We can connect more with them through simple actions like smiling at older people on the streets, talking to our grandparents more, and even chatting with people we meet in the lift, the park, the shops. The gap between generations will be filled with patience, understanding, love and friendship.
I really admire those nurses and doctors that selflessly give their time and put in the extra mile to ensure that the elderly are living comfortably. Though they face many challenges, the doctor I met said that being in the elderly healthcare sector is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, because the elderly are truly grateful for the work he provides.
Thank you to Karen Abu Zant for coming with me to discover and work for our real passion, and for being a big supporter of this event. I want to thank my Encompass trust friends - Revelsya, Ali and Khaled - and the SEER Volunteer Group for making the day so valuable. Even though this was only the second time I had a close interaction with the elderly, there were uncountable takeaways from this visit. It was truly eye-opening.